REVIEW: Man of the Year by Lisa Ruff
Dear Mrs Ruff,
Having read the glowing review of your first book at The Romance Reader, I decided to take a chance. After all, who doesn’t want to read about buff men paid lots of money to stay in buff condition while they live the American dream – getting paid to play a sport? But though I like lots of things about it, it’s not going to get as high a grade from me.
Samantha James’ introduction to her advertising company’s newest client’s employees is one lots of women might enjoy. The locker room of the Seattle Rainiers is packed with handsome men in various states of undress when Samantha is lead through on her way to meet their manager. Afterwards, he takes the time to introduce her to all the players including pitcher Jarrett Corliss. I was impressed with the fact that you don’t have any of these men act in stereotypical “get this broad out of here – women have no place in sports!” ways. They accept her as professional paid to revamp the Rainiers poor public image, to get fans interested in the team again and thus help pay for their salaries. Sure, some of them try and impress her with their machismo but that’s just men.
The one who really wants to impress her and see just how long her legs are is Jarrett. He makes his play then is irked when Samantha refuses his offer of dinner and acts chummy with a man Jarrett sees as the team’s worst womanizer. You’ve given Samantha good reasons for both as 1) the team owner has hired her to erase the scandalous image of the Rainiers and any dating between her employees and team members could get her fired from the contract and 2) Boomer is her younger brother. I was a bit puzzled by some cryptic references to a past bad relationship between Samantha and a ball player that never got explained. Or did I misread this?
Anyway, the conflict between Jarrett’s repeated attempts to date Samantha and her refusals is a believable one. He wants to explore the spark and attraction he senses between them and she has banked her small company’s financial future on this mega contract that will require them to turn down most other jobs. But Samantha can’t help enjoying the fact that this handsome man keeps pursuing her and both of us eventually gave him props for the way he gets her to agree to a first date.
I began to get irritated as the book progressed and we get the same scene played out. Jarrett marches into Samantha’s presence and announces they have to talk about their relationship, Samantha reminds him of the no scandal contract her company has with the team, Jarrett ignores that or plays it down, Samantha says no to his offers, Jarrett exits vowing to keep pressuring her into dates. I did feel the heat between them, I could understand Jarrett wanting to explore that and Samantha being attracted to him but got bored with the way it played out. Plus when she agrees to marry him, how much does she really know about the man or he about her? True you have them wait until the end of the pennant race to actually think about the ceremony but when the question is asked and the answer given, they’re still basically just in extreme like/lust with each other.
I liked watching Samantha at her job. She’s intelligent, competent, has good people working for her and manages her company well. When she first meets Jarrett, she doesn’t melt into a puddle of drool nor does she trip over any piles of bats or gloves because she can’t keep her eyes off his manly chest. She’s also shrewd enough to turn the publicity tables on Jarrett. I think you handled the problem between Samantha and Boomer nicely. There’s no heavy handed foreshadowing and no miraculous saves for him once the damage is done. Jarrett does what he can but I like that you limit his results to what he could probably push and get away with. In my opinion, Boomer screwed up and should have to pay for what he did.
When Jarrett pushes his already injured throwing arm in an effort to win the publicity stunt, I goggled. After all, this is what allows the man to earn his multi-dollar salary, is what separates him from the hundreds of thousands of weekend warriors who can only dream of a pro career and for him to risk it even to get a date with the woman he wants is beyond madness. Though I did like how he sets up his proposal (even if, as I said above, it’s too soon in their relationship for me to believe in a HEA for them).
Baseball isn’t my favorite sport so I can’t answer to whether or not the story would pass the eagle eye of a true fan but nothing jarred me out of the plot. Samantha and Jarrett act like adult and not asshats. When the chips are down, Samantha acts with poise and maturity while trying to take care of her employees. As I said, there’s a lot to like in this story and for sure I’ll be watching for your next release. B-
This book can be purchased in mass market from
Harlequin or ebook format.